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Ribs - Smoking wood and ribs questions

TroubleTrouble Posts: 276
edited 3:48PM in EggHead Forum
I want to cook some ribs for a neighbor this weekend who is deliberating about a BGE purchase. I like my ribs just fine, but want to take it to the next level and I have never used any smoking wood before (can you believe that?--2 years of egging and no smoke!). The JSlot method, I believe, mentions hickory--not soaked, while an adaptation mentions Jack Daniels barrel wood--soaked. The questions are:
1. What are the mechanics in making the decision to soak or not soak?
2. What wood would best complement a mustard/DP Rub preparation?
3. There is a flap of meat that makes it hard to remove all the membrane. The flap is at one end of the slab and looks like a triangular blob of extra stuff. Is this supposed to be cut off?[p]Thanks, all you geniuses, for making me look so good! Time to push my neighbor off the fence, and have some really great ribs in the process.


  • Mark BackerMark Backer Posts: 1,018
    Trouble,[p]In reading Dr. BBQ's book, he mentions that with pork, he likes to use a mixture of 2/3 cherry (for color and flavor) and 1/3 hickory (for flavor).[p]He writes: [p]My personal preference for chioce of wood flavor has always been a combination of 2/3 cherry to 1/3 hickory. I like the color and flavor that cherry imparts, but it just seems to need a little kick. Hickory is the classic barbecue flavor to me, but it can easily overpower most foods. If I'm cooking just chicking I like straight cherry, but since I'm usually cooking different things at the same time the above combination is usually what is in my cooker. I like pecan as a substitute for the combination when I can get it, but it doesn't make the food the nice color cherry does.[p]That should scare some of you, me sitting here quoting from the book of Lampe and all...[p]LOL[p]HTH
  • JSlotJSlot Posts: 1,218
    Hi, Trouble. The decision to soak or not soak is a purely personal preference. You need to try both ways when you can and decide which one you like best. I found that my results with soaked vs. unsoaked chunks were almost identical, so I decided not to go to the trouble of soaking. That's for chunks. Chips are something else altogether. They usually require soaking to keep them from burning up before getting all that good smoke out of them. A geat alternative are the BBQ'ers Delight flavor pellets. I use these almost exclusively now. Just make a foil pouch or two, pour in the pellets, seal up the pouches, punch a hole or two in 'em and lay them on top of your charcoal.[p]About that flap of meat, I always remove it before I take the membrane off. It makes the membrane removal much easier. Don't throw it away, though. Put some rub on it and throw it on there with the rest of the ribs. It'll be done pretty quickly. That's the special "cook's snack". LOL. Good luck![p]Jim
  • BlueSmokeBlueSmoke Posts: 1,678
    You ask a whole bunch of questions... <grin> Those who soak their flavor wood maintain that it prolongs the smoke; those "agin" soaking argue that the liquid doesn't permeate the wood, and more that you are steaming rather than smoking. When I had an ECB, I soaked because it was necessary to maintain the moistness of the meat - with an Egg that's not necessary, so I just use unsoaked wood.[p]Unless your neighbors are connisseurs, they probably won't be able to distinguish among most woods. (except mesquite) They will probably equate "wood smoked" with hickory, so I'd go with straight hickory. (If they were connisseurs, they'd already have an Egg...)[p]That flap of meat should be cut off before you peel the membrane. Then prep it just like the ribs and cook it alongside them. Trimming it makes peeling, and later serving, much easier plus you can eat the flap or freeze it for use in a pot of beans or whatever.[p]HTH

  • guavawoodguavawood Posts: 213
    Trouble,[p]As for the woods I use, I prefer not to soak the chunks. Smaller chips might be a better choice for wood soaking.[p]As Mark Backer mentioned, mixing wood can help. I have never tried cherry but am told it is like guava or peach wood. Not much peach wood in Hawaii though ;)[p]I use a paper towel to remove the membrane. It helps to grab the edge. I feel as long as I get most of it off it wll be fine.[p]Good luck! I love spare ribs!![p]Aloha,[p]Greg Kemp
    [ul][li]Guava Wood Farms[/ul]
  • CajunCajun Posts: 147
    Trouble,[p]I have been soaking chips for a couple of years until I saw a thread here saying that possibly there was no difference. So I tried it dry and I really cannot tell the difference. So I guess if you want to try both ways, you will get to your own personal preference, but I don't think I will soak again.[p]As to the kind of wood, I (and my better half) like smoke flavor, some might say heavy smoke flavor. I will usually use mesquite with ribs, beaf, pork, or lamb. Only occasionally will I stray to hickory. With fish, I use fruit woods - apple, even pear is good for us. Fish needs that lighter touch of smoke so we go lighter with the fruity woods.[p]That is my limited experience, and my preferences. The best part of this is that you will try this and other methods, you will get to your own "best way of doin' it". That is the fun for me in egg-sperimentin'.[p]I guess the best advise is that you go with what you think your tastes are, then modify and see if you like that better. If you like heavy smoke flavor on four legged critter meat, I think you should try mesquite. Go with hickory for a little bit lighter smoke flavor and also a little bit different taste. Personally, I would leave the fruit woods for fish and veggies.[p]Jack Daniels works well for me on everything. The chips I mean. The liquid stuff makes the cook always taste great too! I think. That flavor is unique and works well with pork, beef, or lamb.[p]Of course, this is all only my opinion, and is not to be confused with the truth.[p]Good Luck

  • TroubleTrouble Posts: 276
    Hi, Jim. Good to have the recipe source directly! I can't believe I missed that...the flap is the cook's prize...ahaaaaa. (read "duh")[p]OK. I think I'll play with some Hickory this weekend.[p]Mucho thanks.

  • TroubleTrouble Posts: 276
    Mark Backer,
    Well I said I had never used smoking wood. That not quite true. I tried cherry once. Had no idea what I was doing. Used way too much. Used it on chicken. Plaaaagh. The first two bites were like chewing on a twig but it was a very tender, juicy twig. I cannot possibly express how disgusting that meal was.[p]Anyway, I can never drink Southern Comfort again for one reason, and I don't think I'll ever be able to smoke with cherry wood again for another reason, albeit similar.[p]That's good to know about the color, and I can infer from the good doctor's text that I should go easy on the hickory until I get a feel for what it lends to the flavor. Thanks.

  • TroubleTrouble Posts: 276
    Thanks, Ken. Good call on the neighbors. And unsoaked hickory it is.

  • TroubleTrouble Posts: 276
    That's interesting, because a few folks below said that they don't soak chunks but probably would soak chips. You do just fine not soaking chips. Where I can eliminate steps without affecting quality, that's the route I take. Since I've loved BGE'd food for a long time with no smoke whatsoever, I'm probably one that likes a lighter taste. [p]Geez, now I need more storage for more egg paraphenalia.
    Thanks for the help.

  • TroubleTrouble Posts: 276
    guava wood,
    yep--piece of cake with a paper towel, isn't it? I love ribs, too, and it's been way to long.

  • Mark BackerMark Backer Posts: 1,018
    Trouble,[p]If we use any wood with poultry, it's sparse. Birds pick that stuff up like crazy. [p]I'll use a couple handfuls for butts and ribs, but only because it's lo and slo and I like it.[p]try it again with beef or pork. You never know.[p]That said, my wife and her sister both make that smoke face if there's too much. Unfortunately, there almost can't be too much for me and my brother in law. [p]LOL
  • EggMasterEggMaster Posts: 37
    What kind of lump are you using? I prefer the South American stuff that dosen't add any flavor from the charcoal. As far as the wood goes I like a 2:1 mix of apple to pecan chunks. No soaking required. Have fun.

  • WardsterWardster Posts: 1,006
    Hey Trouble,[p]The only time I soak my wood is when I want to impart another flavor. I never soak with water. I use beer, tequilla, rum, wine and hot sauce! Not sure if it works, but it makes me feel cool.....
    Apollo Beach, FL
  • Citizen QCitizen Q Posts: 484
    I'm with Wardster on this one. I keep a couple of jars of different chip combinations soaking in booze, that way they are always ready when I need them. Right now I've got a jar of apple, pear & hickory soaking in hard cider, oak & cherry in shiraz, and mesquite & hickory in a Newcastle brown ale. The cider soaked chips are reserved for ribs. [p]I don't know how much actually sticks to the food, but it sure smells good when the chips hit the fire and I've got myself convinced that it makes better BBQ. I often throw in a hanful of dry chips too and alot of hickory and mesquite chunks that are always dry.[p]I usually do whole slabs, no trimming til they are cooked. I don't have much trouble pulling at least 70% of the membrane and I score a diamond pattern on what's left behind.[p]Cheers,

  • Trouble,[p]I did ribs today. I used mesquite, Hickory and Guava mixed/ I used 1 chunk of each and tossed in 2 handfuls of some smaller chips/slivers of hickory from the bag. It was subtle and aromatic. Very nice.
  • chucklschuckls Posts: 399
    <p />Trouble,[p]That little flap of meat you mention means you're cooking spareribs. I see lots of pics here on the forum where the whole rack is thrown on to cook. Always looks yummy![p]Personally I like to trim the rack up a bit, slice along the knuckles, and split the rack into a pair of half-rack.[p]The link is an AVI movie I made with time-lapse photography - shows my whole sparerib process, starting with the trim and membrane removal, through the mustard and dry rub, firing up the egg, cook, etc...[p]Happy eggin'[p]Chuck
    [ul][li]Cookin' Spareribs - the movie[/ul]
  • Smokin JoeSmokin Joe Posts: 441
    I like that - the cook's snack. I imagine it goes well with the cook's beverage... LOL Cheers man! Joe

  • TroubleTrouble Posts: 276
    All, thanks for the great advice. Nice movie, Chuckls. And Wardster, feeling cool while you're eating (and cooking) great food is a lofty, achievable and worthwhile goal.[p]Thanks again everybody. the spareribs go in a mustard/rub bath tonight. The whole neighborhood is going to smell good tomorrow.
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